New World Development

Activist finds New World links to Mei Foo project

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2011, 12:00am


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Fresh evidence has emerged to suggest that New World Development has close links with the high-rise project in Mei Foo Sun Chuen that has sparked a series of confrontations and legal rows with residents.

Dozens of company-search documents obtained by Chu Hoi-dick, an activist fighting against the 20-storey apartment block, show that the sole shareholder of Billion Star Development, the developer of the block, is closely connected with New World.

Since the sole shareholder - Billion Speed Investments, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands - had no ownership details available, Chu's search centred on another company that featured in 2002 as part of the decade-long dispute over the high-rise.

The company was Estoree Limited, which first proposed the high-rise on the Mei Foo site in 2002 and won a judicial review to include a street in the site-area calculations. Billion Speed bought the company in 2009.

The transfer of Estoree's shares came with the appointment of four new directors, two of whom were related to New World. Rosa Cheung Yuen-man, an accountant, sits on several charity foundations with former New World chief Stewart Leung Chi-kin, including the Cheng King Yee Education Foundation.

Another Estoree director, Yam Yuen-tung, is also director of New World principal subsidiary All Speed Investment.

'The appointment of New World's allies as directors of Estoree must have been approved by Billion Speed, the majority shareholder. This says something about the close relationship between New World and Billion Speed and its subsidiary,' Chu said.

'Residents have long said New World is behind the project but there has been little proof. My investigation was solely and simply to show the links exist, and to show the developer is behind the recent court case that sued residents for protesting at the construction site.'

New World Development did not respond to inquiries yesterday.

New World has denied involvement in the project since it sold the site, which used to house a gas storage plant, to Billion Star in 2009.

Mei Foo residents had believed that, after the relocation of the plant, the site was part of Mei Foo Phase 8 and could not be used for buildings that would rise just a few metres away from their balconies.

They were disillusioned when the government approved the 20-storey block in October.

Starting in March, they staged a month-long protest at the construction site, blocking trucks from entering. A lie-down protest drew more than 500, including politicians.

The campaigning residents, comprising retired teachers and building professionals, said that the high-rise planned for the small site was illegally using the development potential of Mei Foo Phase 8, and were planning a judicial review.

But before they secured legal aid, developer Billion Star sued them, seeking an injunction to bar them from the work site and a nearby street, and claiming HK$1.4 million in losses for delayed construction.

The developer failed to obtain an immediate interim injunction and the case was adjourned for more than a month.

The government, meanwhile, said the project was lawful and that it would not interfere.

Paper trail

New World has denied involvement in the Mei Foo project

Of four directors of Estoree, which first proposed the project, the number linked to New World in company documents is: 2